Phillies already linked to superstar shortstop Trea Turner, who will be a free agent after the 2022 season
For the second offseason in a row, a stellar crew of shortstops will be at the forefront of the free-agent market.
But whereas last offseason the Philadelphia Phillies stayed out of the shortstop melee, this year, they’ve already been named as the team that’s going to sign Trea Turner.
The 28-year-old infielder is a star, no way around it. As a hitter, he’s got a lifetime .304/.358/.492 line and .851 OPS. This season, he’s hitting .317 with 17 doubles and 10 home runs in his first 71 games. His defense could be better, though, and the Phillies already have enough defensive problems.
But if we’re talking about signing shortstops, we must address the rookie elephant in the room.
What would a Trea Turner signing mean for Bryson Stott?
Wasn’t the whole point of waiting out the last round of superstar free agent shortstops that the Phillies were going to ride out Didi Gregorius’ last season and then usher in their top infield prospect?
Would the Phillies really give up on their 2019 first-round pick that quickly? Stott’s debut has gone as smoothly as extra-chunky peanut butter, but he’s only played 46 big-league games. Throughout the 2021 minor league season, Arizona Fall League, and spring training, Stott showed serious promise. That he’s struggling to find his way says more about the Phillies than it does him.
After all, the Phillies have made a name for themselves as an organization incapable of developing their own talent. Are they really about to go and sign another pricy free agent instead of finally putting in the work to figure out how to develop top prospects into big-leaguers? Overspending on free agents has been their modus operandi for years now, and clearly, it’s not paying off.
The Phillies could sign Turner and move him to second base like the Boston Red Sox did this year with Trevor Story. Turner has 91 career games at second, a solid amount of experience, though he’s spent far more time at short. 612 games, to be exact. There is a club option on Jean Segura, but it feels unlikely they’ll exercise it if they can lure Turner.
Can the Phillies afford to sign Trea Turner?
The Phillies have over $50M coming off the books when several of their own players hit free agency at the end of the season, so in theory, they have the money to sign Turner and reset their luxury tax, which they exceeded this year for the first time in franchise history. However, the Phillies are also still committed to several long-term contracts. In addition to Harper, who is signed through 2031, J.T. Realmuto and Zack Wheeler each have at least two seasons left on their deals. This spring, the Phillies took on two more big deals when they signed Kyle Schwarber (4 years) and Nick Castellanos (5 years). Combined, the five of them make up over $100M in payroll commitments, to say nothing of the rest of the roster. Turner is expected to command an AAV of over $30M, which would make him the highest-paid player.
Maybe they should sign him. Bryce Harper is a big fan, and they’ve worked well together in the past, back when they were both Washington Nationals. Turner has postseason experience, familiarity with the NL East, and is an excellent hitter.
But until the Phillies crack the code to developing homegrown talent, it won’t matter who they sign. They can spend every cent in John Middleton’s piggy bank, and still go home before October.